Congress demands to know why text message prices have skyrocketed


Count on it each election season: Our elected representatives finally get off their duffs and start working on things that will actually affect our pocketbooks.

Early this week, Sen. Herb Kohl, who chairs the Antitrust Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the big four cell phone providers to demand they account for their outlandish recent price increases on text messages. Since 2005, the price of a text message has doubled to an industry standard of 20¢, and perhaps not so coincidentally, it has done so with all four phone providers: T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin, demanded that the cell phone companies show him paperwork about their price structures, including evidence of what made them decide to raise rates in such a dramatic way. The rate hikes, Kohl says, were "hardly consistent with the vigorous price competition we hope to see in a competitive marketplace," and he intends to look into them.